Sunday, 15 February 2009

Eighties night, and the feeling's right

Show 6: TX 15th February 2009

There are some really ugly sofas in the DFS bumpers, aren't there? [I've just bought a sofa from DFS. Mine's red. - Carrie]

Last week! There were high scores for Jessica, Zoe and Ray, and low blows for Ellery and Todd, and "Tucker's luck" finally ran out, oh dear. This week it's the '80s, a decade which Jayne and Chris assure us was "great", in case anyone was wondering. Then again, any decade in which one wins Olympic gold is probably better than most. There will be the requisite amount of thrills and spills, though fewer of the latter now that Todd's gone. Hopefully.

Phil and Holly have not noticeably dressed for the '80s, much to my disappointment. A mention of Gordon the Gopher from Phil merits cheers, especially when he implies he preferred Gordon to Holly. We begin with a routine from the professionals to 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go', and I love that ice dance fashion really hasn't changed at all in the past 25 years as far as I can tell. Jayne and Chris arrive, and are sadly not re-choreographing their Olympic-winning routine to Wham! Come on, that would've been awesome. Then the celebs come in and do a bit of arm-waving, then they align with their pro partners and skate around fairly tentatively, or at least Roxanne and Melinda do. Ray looks as smugly unchallenged by the routine as ever. And then it is over.

Holly's sounding kind of hoarse tonight. Jayne and Chris skate over to join Holly and Phil, and confirm that it was fun to have everyone skating together. Then Holly flashes her legwarmers, and so does Phil. Phil's are lime green and Holly's are hot pink, in case anyone's wondering. Phil reminds us that this is the 25th anniversary of Jayne and Chris's Olympic-winning ice dance, as though we could possibly have missed that by now, but we get a celebratory VT presumably recycled from yesterday's primetime special that I didn't watch in which various people from the show discuss how epically awesome it was, and it still looks epically awesome even 25 years on. Notably the celebrities commenting on it are people like Coleen and Melinda rather than Zoe and Roxanne, because they're actually old enough to remember it properly. Heh. This is all very lovely, but can we watch some celebrities fall over now, please?

Nope, because Phil is talking to Jayne about the routine's "impact", which took them by surprise when they returned to Nottingham. Chris says that the most enduring image for him was when all the sixes went up on the scoreboard. Last night's documentary got over eight million viewers, apparently. Maybe this will inspire our skating stars, says Phil. Inspired, yes. Improved, I'm not sure.

We go for a look at the required element, but there is a VT fail and all we get to see is a static screen. Oops! Phil confirms that the move does actually require more than that (and I hope Dermot O'Leary is watching this and taking notes, because that's exactly the kind of smooth, professional filling that is so sorely missing from The X Factor these days. Then we get to see the VT properly, and it is a Shadow Spin this week - they have to rotate on one foot in synchronisation with their partner. It is very difficult, says Chris, but everyone has been doing well in rehearsals.

Phil throws to the judges - Karen turns the Absolute Beginners into Top Guns, Nicky as as colourful as a Rubik's Cuke and just as complex (and infinitely more frustrating), Jason is the biggest baddy since JR Ewing (fey wave), Ruthie is sweeter than Parma Violets and Robin is the original Blade Runner. Holly greets the ice panel, and asks Robin what he's hoping for. Robin wants the skating to be fast, controlled and good. That seems like a fairly reasonable request. [I love when Robin manages to make stating the utterly obvious entirely apposite. - Carrie]

Okay, enough of the '80s pop culture references now please, show. Roxanne is on first - she thought her routine last week was her strongest, but she had criticism from the judges. Her routine this week is to 'China In Your Hand', and she's worried that her scores are heading in the wrong direction. So skate better, then. Then she dislocates a rib in training, which Jayne informs us is painful but not incapacitating as far as ice dancing is concerned. Roxanne is determined to skate through the pain like a trooper, she tells us. Roxanne is covered in black lace this week, so why is she not skating to 'Agadoo'? What I assume is the Shadow Spin doesn't look quite right, I don't think Roxanne actually lifted both feet, but I imagine we'll find out in a minute.

Gubba says that Roxy's taken more blows this week than Rocky Balboa, and for one horrifying moment then I thought he was going to make a Chris Brown/Rihanna reference like the un-PC football commentators on South Park, but thankfully not. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.0. Roxanne says that she's getting more confident and assertive every week, and she loves it. She adds that in rehearsal the performance was awful, but she was spurred on by the audience and the cameras tonight. Daniel confirms that they altered one of the lifts in light of her injury. Chris says that the spin let Roxanne down, but her performance was good. Nicky says that she was soft in the legs, which is apparently good, and the spin did let her down. Jason criticises her for looking down rather than projecting out in her performance, and says the transitions were awkward - she had some lovely positions, but lacks charisma. "I think he's starting to fall in love with me," says Roxanne.

We return from the ads with Donal, who got surprisingly better last week, I thought. He's skating to 'Addicted To Love', and looking kind of terrifying as he talks about it. To help him improve his pace, he's going speed-skating with some professionals. It seems like Donal has a class of some kind every week. Is he trying to get extra credit? Someone in the audience has a 'Mac The Blade' sign, which as a "Mack the Knife" pun pretty much fails on every level. [Doesn't fail as much as Ray singing it would do. - Carrie] Donal is wearing a white suit, and honestly, the best advice I was ever given was never to trust someone dressed in white. It's served me well, and so I am passing it on to you. You're totally welcome. His spin is better than Roxanne's, though parts of the rest of his routine are a bit stilted still. Scores: Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 3.5, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.5 for a total of 18.5 - his best score so far. Donal says that he dropped Florentine previously in a lift, and she was very brave to attempt it this time. Florentine says she is grateful for the judges' comments because they "allow us to work on our skating". I assume Florentine's skating doesn't really need that much work. Chris complements Donal on his improved confidence. Nicky warns Donal that when he goes for more speed, sometimes it was a bit ragged - he needs to sell the entire routine. "Picky, picky, picky!" interrupts Ruthie. Robin curtly informs her that it's good to be picky with someone like Donal because he will actually listen. Team Robin! Robin compliments Donal on his improved speed and performance and looks forward to seeing him next week.

Jessica is next, with her hair piled up on her head like Minnie Mouse ears. What the hell? What follows throws me a little, because we see Chris and Jayne rehearsing with Ellery and Frankie and for a second I think the wrong routine is playing, until Chris explains that during this rehearsal they heard an almighty crash coming from somewhere - Jessica and Pavel had been practising some lifts off the ice, and something clearly went wrong because they are now lying in a heap and Jessica is looking extremely broken. Jayne worries that Pavel is blaming himself for what happened. We are informed that Jessica is in shock, and she explains that she fell on her back. Poor Pavel is looking extremely angry with himself when he receives word on how she's doing. Jessica returns to the ice, but has bruising around her ribs and her confidence is clearly shaken. Some different choreography is worked out to avoid exacerbating her injury, and Jessica hopes this won't affect her too adversely.

They are skating to 'Venus', and Jessica's actually looking more confident and expressive than usual. It's a fun routine and she's very light on her feet, and the skating content is great to watch - especially the bit where she hangs form Pavel's waist and they spin together. Her required element (cross-footed!) looks excellent too. This was the best she's been all series, I think. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.0, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 4.5 for a total of 23.5. Jessica loved doing it and is just happy she got through it. Phil asks her to explain what happened - Jessica says they usually practise the lifts off the ice before they get on it, but it's a wooden covering on a concrete floor. Pavel says he felt horrible about it and he's so glad she bounced back. "Bounced straight off the floor and onto the ice!" says Phil, a tad tactlessly. Chris says that it's hard when this happens, because he's thinking it's his fault, she's thinking he dropped me - "that's what Jayne says, anyway". Ha! Karen says the routine had everything, and she found the performer in her. Jason nods - this week he felt she sustained the goddess in this number, but there was some choreography that could've been crisper, but apart from that he thought it was beautiful. Jessica is thrilled, as you might expect.

Time for more ads! And afterwards Ellery and Coleen, which doesn't exactly inspire me not to flick over and wait for Lark Rise to Candleford, if I'm honest.

We return and OMG GORDON THE GOPHER! He's sat next to Phil, dressed in ice-friendly white and silver and squeaking away. Phil tells him to shut it. Hee. Coleen was buoyed by positive feedback last week, and is dancing to 'Lady in Red' this week. Bleurgh. Coleen enjoys having a slow dance with Christopher Dean. She's excited to have a chance to do a romantic routine with Stuart, but the problem is they're both gigglers. Stuart complains in rehearsals that Coleen is throttling him. Coleen is hoping to be elegant, and then laughs at the very idea.

Ooh, there's a prop - Stuart drapes a red cape over Coleen at the beginning - she unravels it and it billows behind her like something out of Titanic. Then he takes it off her and discards it, rendering the whole thing a bit pointless. A lot of the routine feels a bit like Coleen hanging off Stuart, to be honest, and some of her footwork is rather stumbly. They don't finish in time with the music, which is something that always annoys me on this show. Her spin was two-footed, to the extent that I didn't even notice it first time around. Scores: Karen 3.0, Nicky 2.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.0, Robin 3.0 for a total of 14.5. Phil says the beginning was "Mariah Carey-esque". Coleen says that her husband isn't worried about her crush - "it gets rid of me, doesn't it?" Phil remarks on Stuart's odd ponytail, which I hope to God is fake. Chris and Jayne's feedback degenerates into giggles. "You can't go wrong with a wind machine, can you?" says Ruthie. She says that Coleen's upper body is good, her lower body less so. Holly remarks on this oddity of Nicky giving the lowest score - Nicky doesn't like the tentativeness or the slowness, and he feels Coleen is capable of more. Phil informs us that Coleen mumbled to him, "I'd go faster if I could actually feel my legs." Oh, stop moaning.

Leaderboard: Jessica, Donal, Roxanne, Coleen.

We are reminded that Ellery was in his second skateoff last week (though not that Mad Ruthie opted to save Todd), and now he is determined to up his game. He needs to be more elegant, he decides, so Kyran Bracken is brought in to help train him. Kyran tells us that being a SPORTSMAN (sigh) and being a performer are very different, like we didn't already know.

Oh God, Ellery's routine is to 'Come On Eileen'. Is it just me, or is there something quite Blair Waldorf about Frankie? The routine is a bit dull, to be honest, despite a bit where Ellery lifts Frankie up and she cycles in mid-air. Put it this way: a bit where Frankie lies on the ice and Ellery skates over her merits "whoo!"s. [Even Greg Rusedski managed to jump over Kristina and put her in mild peril. - Carrie] Still, he gets the required element pretty well. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.0, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.5 for a total of 15.5. Phil thinks the audience thought he deserved more, and Ellery thanks the audience. Ellery is very happy with how it went, and Frankie doesn't think the judges took the quality of Ellery's skating into account. Holly asks Karen if Ellery's done enough to stay out of the skate-off, and Karen hedges. Jason says that while Ellery's turns and mohawks are great, he's reminiscent of Mr Potato Head due to his upper body, or something. I dunno, the audience shouted him down, and I'm getting tired of that little gimmick. I don't care how much of an ass Jason is, that's just disrespectful and uncivilised, and some of us do actually want to hear the judges' feedback, be it positive or otherwise.

Back from the ads, and Melinda and Fred are next. Melinda thought her routine went well last week despite the stumble - she was prepared to be in the skate-off, and was thrilled not to be. They're skating to '99 Red Balloons' (yay!), and never thought she'd be dancing on ice to it. Well, why would you? She starts vamping as they listen to it, and Chris and Jayne decide to integrate them into the choreography. It's her fastest routine so far, and she's got three balloons tied to her, which is proving problematic - though she's glad she hasn't got the full 99, arf arf.

Melinda drops the balloons off fairly quickly and also dispenses with the required element quite quickly, and it's hard to see if she actually lifted her second foot off the ice. There's an impressive rotating plateau lift, but some of the skating looks very muddled to me. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.5, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.5, for a total of 17.5. Melinda is pleased with that score. Fred apologises for the tumble out of the rotating plateau because he slipped. Chris says it's sad that Melinda's been able to do three or four rotations of that spin normally, while she only did one tonight. Robin says it was one very good spin, but on one foot when it should've been two (I thought it was meant to be one?) [no, he meant one rotation when it should have been two - Carrie] - he saw turnout, and Melinda cheers pre-emptively, but then he adds that it wasn't all the way through. He says that her air positions are some of the best of the ladies, but the skating is toe scratching and not consistent enough - they're waiting for her to pull it all together.

Ray's next, and thankfully his nipples are covered this week, because God knows I couldn't have sat through that again. [Again? You're mad. Or, your dedication to duty is admirable. I simply can't can't can't watch it. - Carrie] Phil reminds us that Ray was only born in 1988, so '80s week is a novel for him. Another reason to hate him, basically. There's a drape lift in this week's routine, which is very difficult. Ray doesn't think he's strong enough, and Maria is worried that there's nothing in it she can do to help him, and they've not done it without assistance yet. I'm sure it will go right in the performance, because they like to pretend Ray's about to fail and he never bloody does.

They're skating to 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now'. The skating is very good, as we've come to expect by now, and it's quite a lovely routine. His solo spin is showy, in a Chris Fountain sort of way. Predictably, the drape lift is absolutely fine. Was there ever any doubt? Scores: 6.0 all round, for a total of 30, and everyone loses their shit. "It was obvious it had to happen soon," says Phil, and sadly that is true. Ray is speechless, mercifully. "I'm glad he wasn't around in the '80s," says Chris. Well, reality TV didn't really exist then, so it would've been much better, wouldn't it? Robin says it's a relief to finally be able to press that button for Ray - it was technically excellent. Ruthie says watching Ray is better than eating chocolate fudge cake [I'd respectfully beg to disagree - Carrie], and the extra 0.5 came from Ray's face. I'd usually consider that reason enough to mark him down, but that's probably why I'm not a judge on this show.

Back from presumably the final ad break, and it's time for our eighth performance - it's Zoe. She scored 22.0 last week, and was thrilled to tie with Jessica. Jayne thinks Zoe may be the dark horse of the contest. Zoe thinks the pressure's on because she wants to stay up the top. However, she injures herself during the group rehearsals - hell, what is it with all the injuries this week? It's another rib job too, and Zoe goes to hospital. She's finding it quite hard to breathe and talk, and Matt's probably enjoying the silence while he can. It's a muscle spasm, most likely, so it's not broken.

They're skating to 'I Think We're Alone Now' (also yay!), and their costumes this week are truly horrendous. They are very cute together, though, and the routine is daring and lots of fun to watch. The required element doesn't look as good as it looked in rehearsals, though - oh, and they've choreographed an actual kiss into it near the end. Bless. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 4.0 for a total of 22.0 again - same as last week. Zoe was really nervous tonight, and worried from the beginning. Apparently in rehearsals her hair got caught on her eyelashes and she couldn't see where she was going. Matt says her hair was in his face the entire time anyway, so he couldn't see at all. Jason thought the performance captured the fun and levity of the '80s, but he didn't feel any thrills in the lifts. Karen says it was tight at the beginning, but she got into it - the spin was a bit short, but she thought it was a good performance.

That's everyone, so here's the leaderboard: Ray is top, Jessica is second, Zoe is third, Donal is fourth, Melinda is fifth, Roxanne is sixth, Ellery is seventh, Coleen is last. I'm anticipating an Ellery/Melinda skate-off - anyone else?

The lines are now open, and we flip back through the performances: Roxanne's half-arsed routine that I've already forgotten, Donal's untrustworthy outfit, Jessica's bad hair day, Stuart dragging Coleen around, Ellery being energetic but uninspiring, Melinda's homemade choreography, Ray being nauseatingly perfect and Zoe's insanely backcombed hair.

That's your lot for now - join me at 9.30pm (well, around 10pm, probably) for the results!

The Skate-Off

(Deep voice) Earlier! Eight people danced on ice for your votes. But who's going home?

Phil and Holly return, and the lines are now closed, so do not vote now as it will not be counted but you may still be charged, yada yada yada. Flasback: Roxanne's transitions were iffy and her required element was substandard. Backstage, she doesn't mind being compared to a Cabbage Patch Doll because they're cute, and Daniel frantically tries to assure us that they were listening to the criticism and will be taking it on board. Speaking of which: Donal takes notice, and hopes he will be hear for another week. Jessica's routine was great, and turned into a proper performer. She feels on top of the world, and is especially chuffed with the praise from Jason. Pavel thinks it's the devil's horns on her head. Coleen was tentative where Ruthie would like her to be risky. Coleen enjoyed her wind machine, and Stuart thought the skating was good. Coleen considers it a personal best. Jason called Ellery Mr Potato Head, and 400 people appreciate what he's doing, per Frankie. Let's hope they all vote 100 times each, then. Melinda is inconsistent, Robin reminds us - Fred takes the blame for the problems with the lift, assuring her that it was a "Fred malfunction" rather than a wardrobe malfunction. Ray was better than chocolate fudge cake, per Ruthie, and Ray says he can't ask for more. Well no, because you got top marks. Zoe had levity but not dynamism. Zoe agrees that something was lacking, but promises to bring it back next week.

Holly's back with the judges: unsurprisingly, Ray's performance was the best of the night/series, while Jason didn't enjoy Ellery or Coleen this week. Karen says that Jessica surprised her, but Ray amazed her.

Phil has the results *touches ear*, and the following couples are safe and skating again next week: Ray and Maria, Coleen and Stuart (Coleen looks amazed), Zoe and Matt, Jessica and Pavel and Donal and Florentine, with one couple remaining to be announced after the break, naturellement.

Back from the aforementioned break, and the last couple guaranteed a place in next week's competition is: Roxanne and Daniel. So the skate-off is Ellery and Frankie vs. Melinda and Fred, as I suspected. They've both tackled the skate-off twice previously, so it could go either way.

Holly asks Jayne for tips for Ellery: Jayne thinks Ellery was good tonight, but he needs to up the performance. Chris thinks Melinda needs to nail the spin in order to secure her survival.

First up are Ellery and Frankie. There's a slight stumble as he takes one of the corners, but he's got his biggest grin on. Disaster! He takes a full-on tumble near the end and lands nastily on his shoulder, but he gets back up without missing a beat, which I'm sure will stand well in his favour. Phil asks if he's okay, and Ellery assures us he's fine. Ellery's a bit disappointed that he tripped, but he thinks he recovered well. Jayne says it was a very out of control fall, but congratulates him for getting up again right away.

And here come Melinda and Fred and their 99-96 red balloons. Melinda manages more revolutions of her spin this time, though it's still a little hard to see if her foot leaves the ice. The rotating plateau ends more smoothly this time, and the skating does seem a little better. She manages to grab her balloons at the end as well, which is a lot trickier than I realised when I first saw this routine. Well, my vote would go to Melinda, but of course it's not up to me. Fred says that he likes this number (anything's better than the 'Macarena', right?) and Melinda says she feels it went well. She finds the skate-off scary, despite having done it twice already. Chris says she managed two revolutions on one foot, so well done there.

It's moment of truth time: who will the judges save? Karen votes to save Melinda, and that is that. Nicky votes to save Ellery. Jason votes for Melinda. Ruthie votes for Melinda, so Melinda is safe, and Robin would've saved her anyway. Melinda skates again! She is very pleased and hugs Fred as they skate away, and honestly, who'd pass up an opportunity to hug Lovely Fred?

Ellery is absurdly gracious in defeat and congratulates Melinda on an excellent skate-off - he's honoured to be one of the last three boys standing, and tells everyone else that they thoroughly deserve their places. He apologises for continually talking, and Phil assures him that he still has time (it's a good job I set my PVR to record four minutes beyond the scheduled end of the show this week). Ellery continues by praising Jayne and Chris for their time and commitment to helping the skaters, and then we get his best bits, which involve a lot of good-natured stumbling, a gradual struggle to find that elusive rhythm, learning to tell left from right, and some cute routines and lovely camaraderie with Frankie. At the end of the routine, Ellery thanks Frankie for being lovely and says she will be his "long-life friend forever". Bless. Jayne says he's a pleasure to work with, and she will miss him.

That's pretty much it - Will Young will be on the show next week, Carrie will be recapping, and presumably fleeing the room whenever Ray comes on. I don't blame her.


Livilla said...

Ugh, that one hurt. I was born in 1988, too. I think I need a drink.

Anonymous said...

Now that the UK's got all this extra grit, d'you think we can melt the ice away from under Ray's blades and see if he's still quite so smug then??